and I hope he stays that way
**Copious Spoilers Ahead for Game of Thrones and the Hunger Games**
In Season 6, Episode 9 “Battle of the Bastards,” Davos finds a clue to the fate of Shireen Baratheon, his best friend and reading teacher who was mercilessly sacrificed to the Lord of Light: a half-burned stag figurine in a pile of snow-covered, charred wood. In a fictional universe where characters often vacillate between “good” and “bad,” I have to hope that Davos doesn’t try to avenge Shireen because he is the Peeta of Game of Thrones.
Neither character intended or wanted to be in the powerful position they found themselves. The introduction to both characters is weirdly similar: Peeta gives Katniss burned bread, saving her family from starvation, for which he receives a beating from his mother. Davos smuggles onions and other food to the besieged castle at Storm’s End, saving Stannis and his forces. Because smuggling is illegal, Davos loses the tips of his fingers on his right hand.
Peeta Mellark was a plainspoken baker; thoughtful, well-loved and diplomatic. Peeta was the only winner of the Hunger Games to ever survive without taking anyone else’s life, and before the President put his mind in a Tracker Jacker venom blender, was a pacifist. He cooperates. A person unsullied by the horror and guilt of murder, Peeta represents the ideals of peaceful, pre- and post-Revolution, and that’s why Katniss worked so hard to protect him. Panem as a society needed the innocence of the abstainers to retain some semblance of civilization.
Westeros needs Davos, too. Davos Seaworth grew up the son of a crabber in the poorest part of the biggest city in Westeros, Flea Bottom. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a sailor. He was the quiet, observant kind of sailor, and his black-sailed ship drifted into bays at night, silent and undetected. Once promoted to Knight, Davos remained humble and observant, reminding his king Stannis that he isn’t the most educated man. He sees Stannis’s only daughter, her young face deformed by Greyscale, and gives her the fatherly attention that she lacks from her actual father. His straight-talking helps Stannis secure the backing of the Bank of Bravos and yields Jon Snow 62 of the best men Bear Island has to offer. (It’s a Bear Island shield that Jon uses to thwart Ramsay’s arrows so thanks, Davos.)
“I’ve never been much of a fighter,” said Davos in “Home,” episode two of Game of Thrones’s sixth season. “Apologies for what you’re about to see.” And it’s true. Davos doesn’t even have his own sword in the aforementioned scene. While he’s credited as Commander in the Battle of the Blackwater, his role is to captain the fleet of ships. In the Battle of Castle Black, Davos rides in beside Stannis, far from the front lines and unscathed. In the most recent “Battle of the Bastards,” Davos is, for a change, in the front lines, but we never actually see him wield his new sword. I could be wrong—even though I rewatched the battle, between the gore and the mood music repeatedly suggesting Jon Snow’s demise, it’s possible I missed something. I guess we’ll know when the sixth book comes out (if ever.)
In depictions of war, most deaths are unremarkable. Unnamed characters aren’t mourned and barely noticed, other than a way to further the plot. The Protagonist thwarts their enemies one street, one battle, one melee at a time. This was recently addressed in Captain America: Civil War, where society was like Hey Avengers, why don’t you feel bad about all the lost lives of innocent bystanders. (The premise of that story still seemed thin, obviously Stark Industries’s PR department would’ve made Tony write a statement). But in real life, most people aren’t soldiers or warriors. Most people can’t fathom taking the life of another human, even in the best revenge fantasies. I’d argue even the people who say if they had a time machine, they’d go back and kill baby Hitler couldn’t do it. Seriously? Kill a baby? You’re going to put a pillow over its head and feel it struggle to breathe and stop moving? I’d try to explain to Mrs. Hitler the benefits of birth control in an ominous way, leave her with a lifetime supply of Levora and get the hell out of there.
Characters like Davos remind readers and viewers that life is complicated, human beings should be valued, and patience is a virtue. He’s also one of only a handful of low-born characters to find themselves in positions of power. Unlike Littlefinger, who climbed the social ladder through manipulation and deceit, Davos helped, listened and did the best he could. He’s literally the Westerosi dream. I hope that figuring out how Shireen died and why doesn’t sour his blood. If there’s any truth to R+L=J, Jon may been in need of a trusted, level-headed advisor, like Davos, especially now that Littlefinger is back in the mix. Even though I’d also like to see Davos pull a Peeta, go back to his wife, remaining children and homestead. But whatever happens, we’ll find out next week on Game of Thrones.